Hutchinson's Pictorial History of the War, Series 18 No 1

HUT CHIN SON’S PICTORIAL HISTORY OF THE WAR A STICK THAT MISSED Referring to the Malta convoy, Mr. Churchill said that the Grand Cross island has supplies “lor a great many months to come.” Above, a stick of bombs which iust missed a cruiser guarding the convoy. a gem as shines in the Kin g’s Crown— but its effective action against enemy communications with Libya and Egypt is essential to the whole strategic position in the Middle East. In the same operation one 8-inch Italian cruiser and one 6-inch Italian cruiser were torpedoed and badly damaged and two U-boats were sunk. A most remark­ able feature o f this fighting was undoubtedly the defeat by gunfire and by aircraft o f the carriers o f the enem y’s shore-based aircraft. Fifty-six Axis aircraft Were shot down for certain and 15 others were probably damaged. O f these, 39 were shot down by carrier-borne aircraft o f the Fleet and 17 by the“ ack-ack” guns of the ships o f the convoy and o f the escort. In addition, at least 16 were destroyed by Spitfires from Malta, and all this loss was sustained by these very powerful shore-based squadrons operating from bases in comparatively close proximity without them being able to inflict by air action any appreciable damage upon the ships o f war or the supply ships o f the convoy— a remarkable fact. Although the loss o f the Eagle at the outset o f the opera­tion affected the combination of the three carriers, on which much store was set— which always seemed tome personally lobe o f the highest importance and anew feature— we must regard the whole episode as a further proof o f the value of aircraft-carriers working togethei in combination at sea and also o f the increasing power of the gunnery o f the Fleet and o f the merchant vessels, which were all armed to the teeth and fought with customary determination. All o f this fleet and the whole operation was led with the utmost discipline and determination, reflecting the highest credit on all officers and men concerned, both of the Royal Navy and Mer­cantile Marine, and upon the skilful admirals in charge —Admiral Syfret, Admiral Burrough and Admiral Lyster. The second important operation was the attack upon Dieppe. It is a mistake to speak or write o f this as a Commando raid, although some Commando troops distinguished themselves remarkably in it. The military credit for this most gallant affair goes to the Canadian troops who formed five-sixths o f the assaulting forces, and to the Royal Navy, which carried them all there and which carried most o f them back. The raid must be considered a reconnaissance in force. It was a hard, savage clash, such areas likely to become increasingly numerous as the war deepens. We had to get all the information necessary before launching operations on a much larger scale. This raid, apart from the informa­tion and reconnaissance value, brought about an ex­tremely satisfactory air battle in the west, which the Fighter Command wished they could repeat every week. It inflicted perhaps as much loss upon the enemy in killed and wounded as we suffered ourselves. I personally regarded the Dieppe assault, to which I gave my sanction, as an indispensable preliminary to full-scale operations. I do not intend to give any in­formation about these operations, and I have only said as much as I have because the enemy can see by his daily reconnaissances of our ports many signs o f move­ments that we are unable to conceal from his photo­graphers. He is also aware of the steady and rapid influx into this island o f United States divisions and other troops, but what he does not know is how, when, where, and with what forces and in what fashion he will be smitten, and on this point it is desirable that he should be left to his own ruminations, unassisted by British or American advice or comment. Since the successful action off Midway Island our American allies, with the very active support o f Aus­tralian forces, have been engaged with the Japanese in the South-West Pacific, and in the course o f these
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